Discover the numerous health benefits of this remarkable mineral
Until recently, the most attention the mineral zinc has received in the past two decades is its use in cough drops to relieve the symptoms of a cold and possibly shorten its duration. But it took a pandemic for people to consider it had other benefits.
In the early attempts of seeking a cure for COVID-19, there was considerable interest in the drug hydroxychloroquine, combined with zinc, which could be used as a treatment. Whether or not this chemical concoction is a virus killer appears to destined for perennially debate, but the upside to the controversy is that it got us interested in what else zinc can do. The answer: A lot!
Let’s start with one crucial fact: zinc is an essential micronutrient, involved in over 300 biological processes. A deficiency can manifest itself in days, and one the first signs of a deficiency is fingernail ridging. But a prolonged deficiency can result in many serious health issues and even death. On this last point, in 2004, zinc deficiency was responsible for the deaths of 453,207 children in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Now that we have your attention let’s see what having optimal zinc levels can do for you. Here are seven benefits to consider:
- Reduces the length and severity of colds. The association with zinc as a treatment (not a cure, but a treatment) for the cold can be traced to as far back as 1979. It was then when scientist George Eby discovered that when his daughter was diagnosis with lymphocytic leukemia, she had abnormally low zinc levels.
At the time, his daughter was suffering from a bad cold. Ely gave her zinc to deal with the deficiency, but was surprised to find that within a few hours, her cold was gone! This led Ely to conduct the first, double-blind placebo-controlled trial on zinc lozenges.
A meta-analysis on zinc and its effect on colds conducted by the University of Helsinki was published in 2017. It involved seven randomized trials with a total of 575 participating. In five trials, a dosage of 80-92 mg was used, and the duration of the cold was reduced by 33 percent. Higher dosages did not improve these results significantly.
- Accelerates wound healing. Zinc accelerates the healing of burns, cuts, and abrasions while reducing inflammation and the risk of infection from these conditions. As such, zinc is often included in many topical ointments to treat these conditions.
- Supports the immune system. Zinc is involved in many cellular functions, and a deficiency can result in a compromised immune system. This relationship resulted in the use of zinc as a treatment for COVID-19, specifically in combination with hydroxychloroquine. In the past year, about 35 clinical trials with zinc were published in major scientific journals, with many more underway.
- Influences testosterone levels. The testosterone-boosting supplement business has annual sales of four billion dollars, equal to the amount spent on testosterone replacement drugs. One of the main ingredients in these supplements is zinc, such that any benefits are more likely attributed to resolving a zinc deficiency. Men with low zinc levels can experience reduced testosterone levels, along with testicular shrinkage and decreased sperm count.
- Affects mood and brain health. Those suffering from depression who have low zinc levels may reduce their symptoms by achieving optimal levels. Low zinc levels are also often associated with adults with Alzheimer’s. For these individuals, zinc supplementation may be considered as a treatment to slow mental decline.
- Regulates blood sugar. While it would be irresponsible to say that zinc is a cure for diabetics, there is an association between blood sugar issues and zinc deficiency.
- Improves vision. A leading cause of blindness in the elderly is age-related macular degeneration. Zinc supplementation can help prevent or slow the development of this disease.
How much zinc do you need, and what food sources are highest in this valuable mineral? Would you benefit from Dr. Olga Ivanov’s Immune Support Cocktail, an IV drip packed with pharmaceutical-grade zinc? To answer these questions, consider that the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for zinc is highly dependent on age and gender.
Both genders need equal amounts from infancy to age 13; for example, both males and females need 5 mg between the ages of 4-8, and 8 mg between ages 9-13. However, at age 19+, males need 11 mg to 8 mg for females. Then there is pregnancy and lactation to consider, as these conditions increase a female’s zinc requirements. Also, consider that all these recommendations may be higher, as the RDA is the amount proven to ward off disease, not to achieve optimal health.
Can you get sufficient zinc from food? Certainly, and protein-rich foods top the list. Here is the zinc content of a few of these foods, with 3 ounces per serving, with high zinc levels:
Oysters, breaded and fried, 74 mg
Beef chuck roast, braised, 7 mg
Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 5.3 mg
Beef patty, broiled, 3.4 mg
Porkchop, loin, 2.9 mg
When you go down the list to include other types of foods, you have a challenge. One cup of low-fat milk contains 1 mg, a half cup of kidney beans, cooked, gives you .9 mg, and a half cup of green peas gives you .5 mg.
To determine if you are zinc deficient, not just to prevent disease but to enjoy optimal health, you should get a blood test. Don’t guess! Testing can determine if you need to modify your diet or consider taking a zinc supplement until your zinc results reach optimal levels to reap the full benefits of this vital nutrient.